Coors Light All-Star Game Coaches Named

Pensacola’s Farrish, Gwinnett’s Pyle
Direct American Conference

Atlantic City’s Thomas, Trenton’s Haviland
Lead National Conference

PRINCETON, N.J. – The ECHL on Tuesday announced that the coaches for 2005 Coors Light ECHL All-Star Game will be Pensacola’s Dave Farrish and Gwinnett’s Jeff Pyle for the American Conference and Atlantic City’s Matt Thomas and Trenton’s Mike Haviland for the National Conference. Farrish and Thomas were selected as a result of having the best winning percentage in their respective division through games of January 2 while Haviland and Pyle were chosen in a vote of league coaches.

Thomas, who has the Boardwalk Bullies sitting atop the league with 42 points and 19 wins, is the youngest coach to be selected to an ECHL All-Star Game and becomes the fifth first-year coach since 1996 to be chosen. Arkansas’ Chris Cichocki, Peoria’s Jason Christie and Trenton’s Troy Ward were all in their first year when they were selected for the 2001 All-Star Game as was Toledo’s Murray Eaves when named to the staff for the 1999 All-Star Game.

It is the second All-Star appearance for Farrish, Haviland and Pyle. Farrish, who was head coach of Louisiana at the time, was behind the bench when the South beat the North 7-6 in 2002 while Haviland, who was head coach of Atlantic City at the time, was co-coach of the North when it defeated the South 8-2 in 2003. Pyle is making his second straight appearance, having been a co-coach for the Western Conference in 2004.

Sponsored by Coors Light and hosted by the Reading Royals, the 13th Annual ECHL All-Star Game and Skills Competition will be held at the 7,215-seat Sovereign Center in Reading, Pa. The Skills Competition will be on January 25 at 7:05 p.m. and the All-Star Game will be played on January 26 at 7:05 p.m. Tickets are still available for all events and can be purchased at the Reading Royals box office or by telephone at (610) 898-7825.

The starting lineup and roster for the American Conference All-Star Team will be announced on Wednesday and the starting lineup and roster for the National Conference All-Star will be announced on Thursday.

National Conference – Matt Thomas, Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies

Matt Thomas is in his first season as head coach of Atlantic City, having been named to the position on June 16. The 29-year-old Thomas is the youngest active head coach in the ECHL and joins Ray Edwards, who was 28 years old when named head coach of Huntington in 1998, as one of the youngest coaches in league history. Thomas was an assistant coach with Atlantic City for two seasons, helping to recruit many of the players who helped the Boardwalk Bullies win the Kelly Cup Championship in 2003. Prior to Atlantic City, Thomas spent two seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Maine. In 2001-02, the University of Maine went 26-11-7 and advanced to the NCAA Championship Game. Thomas spent one season as an assistant coach at his alma mater, the Rochester Institute of Technology, which went 27-1-2 and advanced to the NCAA Division III Frozen Four. Following a junior career in the Ontario Hockey League, Thomas served as Captain and helped RIT achieve a No. 1 ranking while advancing to the NCAA Tournament during his senior year while earning Eastern College Athletic Conference Division III West All-Star honors.

National Conference – Mike Haviland, Trenton Titans

Mike Haviland was named as head coach and director of hockey operations for Trenton on June 3, 2004. Haviland returns to the Titans after three years as the head coach and director of hockey operations for the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies, who he led to the Kelly Cup Championship in 2003 and the Northern Conference Finals in 2002. Haviland was an assistant coach during Trenton’s first two seasons in 1999-2000 and 2000-01 and recruited players as a scout for the Titans before their entrance into the ECHL. Haviland has the second-highest winning percentage among active ECHL coaches going 130-60-26 in the regular season and 22-13 in the Kelly Cup Playoffs. A native of Middletown, N.J., he was named ECHL Coach of the Year by The Hockey News after his first season in 2001-02, and he was voted by his peers to coach the Northern Conference in the 2003 ECHL All-Star Game. Selected by the New Jersey Devils in the 1990 Draft, Haviland played in the American Hockey League with Binghamton in 1989-90 and in the ECHL with Richmond and Winston-Salem in 1990-91. He helped Elmira College capture two Eastern College Athletic Conference titles and was named First Team All-America and team MVP in 1989-90 after scoring 72 points (41g-31a) in 33 games.

American Conference – Dave Farrish, Pensacola Ice Pilots

Dave Farrish is in his first season as head coach and vice president of hockey operations of Pensacola, having been named to the position on July 13, 2004. The 48-year-old Farrish was head coach of Louisiana in the ECHL from 2000-04 going 186-78-24 while winning four consecutive division titles. In 2001-02, Farrish was named ECHL Coach of the Year after Louisiana finished 56-12-4 and set league records for wins, points (116) and winning percentage (.806). Farrish is 469-386-100 in 13 seasons as a professional coach, including three seasons with Springfield of the American Hockey League from 1997-2000 where he had a 115-98-25 record. He began his coaching career in the AHL with Moncton in 1989-90 and has also coached in the International Hockey League with Salt Lake and Fort Wayne. Farrish, whose teams have qualified for the postseason in 10 of his 12 seasons, also served as an assistant coach with New Jersey of the National Hockey League in 1992-93. Selected by the New York Rangers in the second round (24th overall) in the 1976 NHL Amateur Draft and in the first round (fifth overall) by the San Diego Mariners in the 1976 World Hockey Association Draft, Farrish played 14 professional seasons from 1976-89. A defenseman, he played 430 games in the NHL over seven seasons, and he was a member of the Rangers team that advanced to the 1979 Stanley Cup Finals.

American Conference – Jeff Pyle, Gwinnett Gladiators

Jeff Pyle is in his second season as head coach and director of hockey operations for Gwinnett. In their inaugural season in Gwinnett, the Gladiators were 42-22-8 and advanced to the Western Conference Finals before losing to Kelly Cup Champion Idaho. Pyle was head coach and director of hockey operations for Mobile of the ECHL from 1998-2002 when the team voluntarily suspended operations in preparation for its move to Gwinnett. Pyle had a 137-113-34 record in Mobile, advancing to the Kelly Cup Playoffs three times in four seasons, including 2001 when the Mysticks lost in double overtime to Kelly Cup Champion South Carolina in the Southern Conference Semifinals. Before joining Mobile, Pyle was an assistant coach for Grand Rapids of the International Hockey League in 1997-98 following six seasons coaching in Germany. He began his coaching career in 1985-86 when he was a player/assistant coach with Saginaw of the IHL. Pyle played 13 professional seasons in North America and Germany beginning in 1981-82 with Binghamton of the American Hockey League. Pyle played five seasons in the IHL, two with Flint and three with Saginaw, and in his 10-year career he scored 1,313 points (490g-823a) in 795 games. He was named as a league all-star eight times and league Most Valuable Player three times. Pyle was named team MVP nine times and helped his teams win four league titles.